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CAS 2014: Audioengine Makes Music Easy

DSC_1502 Dyn_CAS-logo-2I don't own Audioengine speakers myself, but I have quite a bit of fondness for their gear, simply by dint of how EASY they make everything. They are my go-to recommendation for friends and family who ask me things like, "What ever happened to a good shelf system? Why can't I go to Sears and buy a boom box that'll let me listen to music from my computer?" Audioengine makes products that are easy to use, easy to explain, and that look and sound immensely better than most of the consumer audio out there. And now, with the debut of their B1 Bluetooth Music Receiver ($189), they've made it incredibly easy to stream music from any Bluetooth enabled device.

The B1 uses Bluetooth 4.0 audio with aptX codec, and supports aptX, A2DP, and AVRCP Bluetooth profiles. It contains an AKM AK4396A DAC, and will upsample to 24 bits. Reportedly, the implementation presents a lower noise floor and lower distortion than other Bluetooth devices. I wasn’t able to do a direct comparison in the room, of course, but I will say that it sounded remarkably listenable and distortion-free; I didn’t notice a significant difference between the sound through the B1 in comparison to non-Bluetooth sound I’ve heard from Audioengine at other shows. The B1’s antenna also reportedly has a greater range than most Bluetooth devices, and can reach more than one room without audio degradation, although again I was not able to test this at the show.

At the time I visited, the B1 was hooked up to a pair of A5+ powered speakers in white ($399). I thought the sound was really quite excellent, and I think it’s fantastic that such great desktop or small room sound can be had for relatively little money. Audioengine might not be what comes to mind when you think of hifi, but their products’ accessibility, plug-and-play simplicity and price tags that makes sense to non-audiophile consumers make them real winners.

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2 Comments on CAS 2014: Audioengine Makes Music Easy

  1. These bluetooth receivers are all the same re-badged (Nuforce, AE, etc.) products. I bet this monoprice for $50 is the same as well! http://www.monoprice.com/Product?c_id=108&cp_id=10823&cs_id=1082711&p_id=10248&seq=1&format=2

    • Part-Time Audiophile // August 24, 2014 at 3:26 PM //

      Pretty sure that the Nuforce and the Monoprice are the same box. But the Audioengine? Looks rather different, no? Someone bothered to fiddle about with it cosmetically. Which usually means it’s not a rebadge.

      Anyway, I asked them about it:

      “The B1 design and implementation was done by our in-house DAC and wireless team, including a custom Bluetooth module which we’ve discovered not many manufacturers do. We also included a 24-bit upsampling DAC design based on the AKM 4396, which is the same part in our D1 and D3 DACs. One additional feature worth mentioning is that the range of the B1 is easily 3 to 4 times the competition.”

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